Vaping stresses and inflames lungs, causing subtle structural changes to proteins, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory discovered from studying rats.
“There have been a number of studies on this, and they generally have gross measures that say, ‘OK, there’s some oxidative stress going on here, but we don’t really know what’s going on,’” Charles Ansong, biochemist and co-author of the study, said. “But this technique identifies which proteins are being modified, which sites are modified, and it suggests how likely they are to impact protein function and molecular pathways. It gives us a lot of insight into the mechanism behind the injurious effects of e-cigarettes.”
Earlier studies had discovered that vaping could stress tissues, but how was unclear.
Researchers at the national laboratory exposed rats to e-cigarette vapor for three days in three one-hour sessions. When they examined the rats, they discovered an imbalance between the production of free radicals, molecules with unpaired electrons, and the body’s ability to mitigate their harmful effects. This is a sign of oxidative stress.
Free radicals contribute to disease and dysfunction when there is a disproportionately large amount.
The researchers did not learn the extent of the cellular function damage.